It is a question many ask, but few answer honestly.
After a particularly heavy bout of drinking many will ask themselves the question: Am I an alcoholic?
While in many cases there is no charge to answer, and in all probability the question has been considered due to the way you feel ‘the morning after’, it is very important to understand just how highly addictive and damaging alcohol can become.
Why does alcohol not carry the same stigma as other recreational drugs?
This is simple really, alcohol is legal, recreational drugs are not. That should NOT fool you into thinking that alcohol is any less addictive or dangerous. In many cases it is far more addictive and damaging to your health than other recreational substances.
Such a statement is borne out by the amount of people who are dependent upon alcohol, the cost to the health services in treatment, the damage to your liver, kidneys and general health as well as the year on year death toll it contributes to.
Why do we drink alcohol?
There are a whole host of reasons for this. Peer pressure is a major factor, your friends or colleagues drink, and a natural reaction is that you want to be socially accepted, you do not want to be left out, so you join them during drinking sessions.
Some turn to binge drinking in an attempt to heal pain or loneliness while others may have a family history of alcoholism. Being brought up and living in such a home environment certainly increases the chances of alcohol addiction.
It is important to understand that as long as alcohol is taken in moderation it can be a very pleasurable experience.
Why is alcohol so pleasing?
When alcohol is consumed the brain releases endorphins. These neurotransmitters are responsible for, amongst other things, pleasurable feelings, excitement and satisfaction.
This means that the more alcohol consumed the more pleasurable it appears. Inhibitions are loosened and many have a thoroughly enjoyable time while socialising and drinking.
Why is alcohol so addictive?
“Am I an alcoholic” is a silent question many who overindulge with alcohol on a regular basis ask. This is because in many cases their occasional drinking does not stop there.
Such momentary feelings of pleasure given by alcohol will eventually lead those who drink to excess to crave more. As more alcohol is consumed the more the body and mind becomes tolerant of it, and thus yet more drink is required to feed your need.
This can rapidly become a vicious circle that is difficult to break. These satisfaction sensations entice and encourage you to drink more in your efforts to keep the brain continually satisfied.
If you are in a situation where alcohol is being drank regularly, or you are drinking to excess and begin to find that it is affecting your life and judgement then the answer to the question: Am I an alcoholic? is a most definite YES.
When should you seek professional help?
Admitting to yourself and your loved ones that you have a problem with alcohol is no easy task, but it is a task that must be accepted and challenged if you are to escape the misery that alcohol dependence and addiction can cause.
Here are just 9 pointers that show you are heading towards, or already have an addiction to alcohol. The more of these you acknowledge, the deeper your drink problem has become:
Using alcohol as an emotional crutch:
Emotions play a very strong part in those who drink heavily. Whether you justify your drinking to relieve stress, pressure, anxiety, temporary depression, or feel you need a drink to help you really relax, these are signs that you are becoming dependent upon alcohol.
What is important to remember here is that while drinking to excess may give temporary relief it is just that; temporary, indeed there is a big chance things will only get worse in the long run.
This is a very common sign when asking yourself: Am I an alcoholic? Many alcohol rehab establishments cite this as a major pointer to alcohol addiction.
The thing with denial is that it is easy to lie to others how much you have drank, or deny that you are secretly drinking. Of course, such denial may fool others for a while, but deep down you know you are not fooling yourself.
Regular “black outs”:
If you regularly find you have no recollection of what happened during and after a drinking session this should be seen as a major red flag that alcohol is taking over your life.
Once started there is no stopping:
Yet another pointer that alcohol rehabilitation services are required. If you are in a situation where once the wine bottle is uncorked it is emptied, or the last beer in the fridge must be drank before you stop a drinking session, this is a clear sign your drink problem is in control of you and not the other way around.
Drinking increased amounts:
Another clear sign in answering the question: Am I an alcoholic? If you are finding your tolerance to drink is increasing and that not only can you drink more, but it takes more to get you drunk, this is proof that your body is becoming far more tolerant and needing of alcohol.
Drinking when you know you should not:
Are you drinking before or during work, or before you need to drive somewhere? If so this implies that drinking is becoming your main priority.
You know such occasions are not the time to drink and yet you ignore the serious implications that such drinking can cause.
Affecting your daily routine and relationships:
If drink is causing you problems at work or you are neglecting your household duties this will have a significant effect in relationships with those most close to you.
It means you are placing your need for alcohol above all else and while this is damaging you, you must be aware of the heartache and concern it is causing others.
Withdrawal not a hangover:
We need to be clear on the difference. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you have not had a drink is a reaction to a lack of alcohol rather than having drank too much and feeling hungover.
Withdrawal signs include irritability, anxiousness, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, sweating and shaking.
Trying to quit but unable to:
The final pointer when asking yourself; am I an alcoholic, is if you have realised the consequences your drinking problem is causing and have tried to stop, but you are unable to do so.
This shows that you understand the impact excessive drinking is having on your life, but its hold over you is too deeply entrenched for you to stop drinking without professional help.
This is when you really should avail yourself of alcohol rehab establishments that fully understand your issues and will work with you to beat and overcome your alcohol addiction.